Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the veins that return blood to the heart. The legs have superficial veins (near the skin) and deep veins (between the muscles). Any deep vein thrombosis symptoms are a significant health problem. If left untreated, clots can grow or break off and travel to the lungs. When this occurs, it is a pulmonary embolism. 

What causes deep venous thrombosis?

There are several risk factors for Deep vein thrombosis. These can be grouped into three categories. These categories and their corresponding risk factors include:

  1. Damage to deep veins causing clot formation: trauma patients, patients who have just had surgery (especially orthopedic surgery and for cancer)
  2. Immobility causing blood stagnation and clot formation: hospitalized patient, post-operative patient (other surgeries), long-term travel (low risk)
  3. Conditions and diseases that increase the risk of forming clots: cancer, pregnancy, advanced age, personal history of Deep vein thrombosis, genetic disorders increasing the risk of developing clots, oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy.

Deep vein thrombosis symptoms?

The most common deep vein thrombosis symptoms are calf pain and swelling in the leg. It is well established, however, that patients with these symptoms do not necessarily have DVT and that patients with proven DVT history will not necessarily have deep vein thrombosis symptoms. The initial presentation may also be that of a pulmonary embolism. 

Diagnosis and examinations for deep venous thrombosis

The diagnostic test at the USA Vein Clinic most often used for deep vein thrombosis is duplex ultrasound. In this test, the veins of the lower limb can be directly visualized and analyzed for clot detection. Other tests are rarely used. These include computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance (MRI), or venography with contrast. Under certain circumstances, the doctor may order a blood test called D-dimer. The patient is less likely to have deep vein thrombosis DVT if negative. On the other hand, if positive (high value), several causes must be considered, and other tests are often necessary. The examination most often used for the detection of a pulmonary embolism is the CT scan.

Recommendations to prevent deep vein thrombosis

Most thrombosis can be prevented. It is only necessary to follow some recommendations:

Try not to stay still for long periods.

After surgery or long bed rest: Try to get up and going as soon as possible, as immobilization increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis. When you travel, move from time to time. If you’re driving, take breaks every hour or two and walk around a bit.

Try to sleep with your legs slightly elevated.

To do this, you can raise the legs or the back of the bed at least 15 cm to speed up the return circulation.

Watch your weight.

Overweight obesity increases the pressure in the veins of the pelvis and legs, so it is essential to avoid it. To do this, take care of your diet and perform physical exercise regularly.

Drink water in the right amount for you.

Poor hydration increases blood viscosity and, therefore, the risk of clot formation.

Stay active.      

Regular exercise stimulates circulation, which reduces the risk of blood clots. Above all, do your best to carry out activities that contract the leg muscles. These are especially important for people who often sit for long periods or travel.

Quit tobacco.

Tobacco interferes with coagulation and circulation of blood flow, thus increasing the risk of thrombi.

If you have previously had blood clots, regularly examine your legs.

Look for signs such as swelling, pain, warmth, or redness. See a doctor immediately if you detect any deep vein thrombosis symptoms.